Why a walk in the park may be the answer to work stress

Why a walk in the park may be the answer to work stress

People who regularly went on walks in green spaces had a greater resilience to stress.

A new study has found that employees who regularly take walks in forests and green spaces may have higher stress-coping abilities.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan studied data on more than 6,000 Japanese workers aged between 20 and 60 years old and analysed their "sense of coherence" (SOC) scores, demographic attributes, and walking habits.

SOC scores are comprised of meaningfulness (finding a sense of meaning in life), comprehensibility (recognising and understanding stress), and manageability (feeling equipped to deal with stress), and people with strong SOC scores are known to have a greater resilience to stress.

The study, published in ‘Public Health in Practice’, found stronger SOC among people who regularly took walks in forests or green spaces.

"SOC indicates mental capacities for realising and dealing with stress," lead researcher Professor Shinichiro Sasahara said. "With workplace stress as a focal issue, there's a clear benefit in identifying everyday activities that raise SOC. It seems we may have found one."

Those with strong SOC showed a significant correlation with both forest and green space walking at least once a week.

"Our study suggests that taking a walk at least once a week in a forest or green space can help people have stronger SOC," explained Professor Sasahara.

"Forest/green space walking is a simple activity that needs no special equipment or training. It could be a very good habit for improving mental health and managing stress."

It follows another recent study which found that walking with a purpose – especially walking to get to work, makes people walk faster and consider themselves to be healthier. People who walked primarily to places like work and the grocery store from their homes, for example, reported better health than people who walked mostly for leisure.

(DPA/Reuters)

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